Rivers v. Roadway Express, Inc., 511 U.S. 298, 19 (1994)

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Blackmun, J., dissenting

desegregation plaintiffs to a case pending on appeal on the statute's effective date. The Court observed that the statute merely created an "additional basis or source for the Board's potential obligation to pay attorneys' fees." 416 U. S., at 721.2 Just as the school board in Bradley was on notice that it could be liable for attorney's fees, the employer in this case was on notice—from the prevailing interpretation of 1981—that it could be liable for damages for a racially discriminatory contract termination. Indeed, in this case, the employer's original liability stemmed from the very provision that petitioners now seek to enforce.

In Bowen, by contrast, the Court unanimously interpreted authorizing statutes not to permit the Secretary of Health and Human Services retroactively to change the rules for calculating hospitals' reimbursements for past services provided under Medicare. Although Bowen properly turned on the textual analysis of the applicable statutes, neither citing Bradley nor resorting to presumptions on retroactivity, its broad dicta disfavored the retroactive application of congressional enactments and administrative rules. See 488 U. S., at 208. Bowen is consistent, however, with the Court's analysis in Bennett v. New Jersey, 470 U. S. 632 (1985), appraising the "[p]ractical considerations," id., at 640, that counsel against retroactive changes in federal grant programs and noting that such changes would deprive recipients of "fixed, predictable standards." Ibid. Bowen also accords with Bradley's concern for preventing the injustice that would result from the disturbance of the parties' reasonable reliance. Thus, properly understood, Bradley establishes a presump-2 Here, of course, 101 creates a basis or source—in addition to Title VII—for the prohibition on racial discrimination in the enforcement of employment contracts. Title VII makes it illegal for an employer "to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin." 42 U. S. C. 2000e-2(a)(1).

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